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Rezoning for processing facility in Cumberland approved

The Cumberland County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a rezoning request Tuesday night, Feb. 9, for the construction and operation of a meat/food processing facility.

The vote rezoned a plot of land off of Route 45 on Cumberland Road from A-2 General Agricultural to M-2 Industrial.

According to information provided from the county, it is the hope of business owners Harold Collins and Margaret Taylor-Collins to use the 20 acres of land to construct and operate a central Virginia producers cooperative and meat processing facility which would also serve as a farm market and agritourism/education center.

More than a dozen residents from Cumberland and neighboring counties signed up to speak during the public comments section of the public hearing.

While some citizens cited concerns for the project’s potential effects on well water, property taxes, traffic and the environment, others, including local livestock producers, believed the facility would be a great asset to Cumberland as a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified processor.

Some residents said the business would also help provide access to local meats and greatly reduce the distance some producers have to travel to get animals processed.

Old Buckingham Road resident Brooks Davis, whose family produces beef and lamb, told board members he travels more than 120 miles to get his livestock processed.

Facility Manager Richard Cropp told supervisors Monday night that he and the Collins’ had spent four to five months developing the concept of the venture after recognizing growers throughout the state were hurting.

Cropp said prior to the meat shortages and plant shutdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, there was already a severe shortage of processing capacity to handle local farm animal processing. He noted as of Monday there were, to his knowledge, only 11 USDA public processing plants in Virginia, three of which are currently closed.

In reference to water concerns, Cropp told residents in attendance that the maximum amount of water the facility would be using would not exceed 4,500 gallons a week. Taylor-Collins stated the business would likely be processing approximately 30 animals each week.

Supervisors unanimously approved the rezoning request. Board Chairman and District 1 Supervisor Brian Stanley stressed the vote was not permitting the facility and only served to rezone the land.